Racing is also insane.
Way back in 1979, I was playing kickball during recess at Pershing Elementary in Joliet when Jeff Ray and I went down in a jumbled heap while going for the ball. Jeff was one of those guys who, as long as you knew them, towered over every other kid in the class. I, on the other hand, was always one of the slightly smaller than average kids. The results weren't good, especially from my perspective. I remember feeling intense pain, but shaking it off and going back to the game. In reality, though, I came to, laying on the ground, looking up into Jeff's face while he profusely blubbered apologies since I had been knocked out cold (and hallucinated that whole other scene.) This was a monster of a hit: playground attendants fireman-carried me to the office, I barfed my lunch up everywhere, I even got to go to the hospital in the ambulance while wearing office-loaner, non-barfed-on, funky 70's plaid bell-bottomed pants, I shit you not.
The net result was a nicely smashed cheekbone, with resulting double vision because one of the eye muscles had caught in one of the fractures, where it couldn't move, thus severely limiting movement of the eye. I eventually had surgery to fix the problem, but not before I had to wear a stupid eye patch to the fifth grade for a couple of weeks. A big, weeks-long headache, and schoolmate mockery to boot. Awesome!
The surgery was, for the most part, completely successful, although, to this day, I still experience double vision in the uppermost portion of my range of sight (and occasionally hellishly unbearable sinus pressure in my left eye, but that's another story.) This isn't a problem at all, because the only way it is evident is if I look up as high as I can without actually moving my head; In other words, if I hold my head level, but actually look at the ceiling, I see double. So, as long as I never have serious neck issues, I'm ok, you're ok, we're all golden. Well, almost.
Flash forward exactly 30 years, hell, maybe to the day, and I'm in the high banking during the Team Challenge down at Daytona last month. It was my first time there, and we only really had maybe 40 or so laps of practice, which, trust me, ain't nearly enough for that total mindfuck of a racetrack. Consequently, I'm still actually learning the track halfway through my race session. As I'm bombing down the back straight at 130+ on my 12 year old, 85HP, buck naked bike, I figure out that if I scooted my ass as absolutely far back in the seat as it'd go, it allowed me to actually place my chin right on the tank, which is harder than it sounds since I already had my arms and legs tucked in as tightly as I could, thereby making it extremely difficult to just breathe.
So, since I immediately noticed an increase in speed from my little discovery, I popped up to brake for the bus stop, shifted all my weight forward to avoid the tank slapper which usually accompanied the bump at the exit of the chicane, and then swiftly shoved the rear of the seat up my ass so I could jam my head back down on the tank.
Then I hit Nascar 3 & 4.
Let me explain the banking at Daytona. First, it's a 32 degree incline, I think. Also, I know that it's not even nearly smooth. There are pavement irregularities, dips, bumps, and sealer lines aplenty. Oh, and I almost forgot the wind. I can't even imagine doing 180 in a car there. But, back to that inclined banking. What that incline allows you to do is go as fast as your balls will allow, with very little steering input required to go in a relatively straight line. What that incline translates into, from the rider's perspective, is a track that curves up away from you, rather than a track which curves away to the left. And, the turns are long, so the track curves up away from you for a seeming eternity.
So, I enter the turn with my newly found riding position, doing 130+ miles an hour, on my ancient, unfaired motorcycle, hitting little bumps and huge G-outs, with my chin on the tank, and now I have to look up out of my helmet to see where I'm going, and now I'm seeing everything in stereophonic, two-tracks-are-better-than-one, LSD flashback-type double vision. I'm seeing multiple sets of lines everywhere, and twin track imperfections, and I'm most definitely seeing 2 concrete walls up at the top of the track. For the very first time since my first trackday over 5 years ago, after multiple crashes, several injuries, thousands of dollars in lost wages, and untold thousands more spent on bikes, upgrades, gear, trailer, tires, trackdays, and racing, I pondered whether or not this sport is really for me.
I must really be a racer, though, because I kept the throttle screwed full-on to the stop, even when I came down on to the front straight with the wicked southesternly wind slamming into my left and pushing me sideways 5 or so feet. See? Insane.
And then, the very next time I hit the banking, after the infield, I don't really recall being that worried about it. See? Insane.
And now, even though I had a massive panic attack while I was barbequing and having a beer the Thursday following our return home from Daytona, and even though I've been completely freaked out since then, in 3 weeks I head to Topeka, where I crashed fairly spectacularly, and injured myself pretty darn good, during the first race weekend last year. See?
I can't wait.
Like I said...
There will always be a better ride out there. It's not the bike that bends, it's the rider. There is no spoon.
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Last edited by Farmboy69; 04-03-2009 at 02:11 AM.